Asheville writer pens open letter to Waking Life owner: Wake up

Jason Sandford

Jason Sandford is a reporter, writer, blogger and photographer interested in all things Asheville.

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Ashvegas: The City You Love. The News You Want.Asheville poet and writer Laura Hope-Gill has written and posted an open letter to Jared Rutledge, owner of Waking Life Coffee Shop in West Asheville, in response to the Waking Life scandal. Rutledge has faced a storm of criticism over his treatment of women after it was revealed that he and his business partner, Jacob Owens, often spoke of women in demeaning terms on a podcast and through a Twitter account named Holistic Game.

Dear Jared Rutledge,

You have gained the trust of a community and betrayed it just as you have done with so many women.
You didn’t deserve them. You don’t deserve Asheville.

In your apology for creating not just a twitter handle but also a blog and webpage extolling your misogynistic sexual conquests (“notches”), you have compared the shaming you are experiencing with that you faced upon looking at porn at Christian high school.

It is nothing like that.
This was not porn.
You are not in school.

The women you manipulated into consent did not voluntarily post their nudity on the web.
You did not merely look–you played, you touched, you took.

The example posted in the Asheville Blog quoted your tweet regarding a woman whose previous boyfriends had been abusive. You had sex with her, recognized she needed “beta” nurturing and a future. You bailed. But first you played the role of the listening, caring guy.

In another you cite the thrill of wailing on a woman with belt.

You do not have issues with dating as you state in your apology.
You are a sadist. You are a sociopath.

This is not about dating. This is about excising manipulated consent. You play whatever card you need to play to get a woman into bed with you, knowing that it is only a score. This is no different from rape.

The consent is to have sex with the person you pretend to be.
Since that person does not exist, it is not consent.

These women have real lives. Whether they consent to sex for one night or with the belief that something more long-term will evolve, they are living in reality.

The great irony is that your business, which I’m mortified to say I have frequented twice, is called Waking Life.
Yours is not a waking life, but a very sleepwalking one where you miss out on all of life–because you don’t connect, because you do not feel.

What you do is the opposite of life. And its impact on women’s real lives wastes their precious time and energy.

This is not shaming you. This is seeing you. Know the difference. You are a shame to all men and disgusting nuisance to all women.

You say you are willing to sit and talk with anyone about this.
The only way you can really redeem yourself would be to face every woman whose intimate details of real life you shared.

Only then could you possibly actually Wake Up. But you don’t deserve another second of their time.

You better make a huge donation to Our Voice. This city deserves something after investing in you as part of community.


Jason Sandford

Jason Sandford is a reporter, writer, blogger and photographer interested in all things Asheville.

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  1. Matt September 25, 2015

    The comments here are so helpful to read. Thanks, ya’ll, for a nuanced and respectful discussion about a difficult topic. I especially appreciate Real World’s long thoughtful comment. I’ve gotten into this discussion a few times, but not with so much tact, and while feeling a little unclear or unsafe to vet my thoughts/feelings.

    Like Barry, I reacted to certain points in the strongly worded editorial above. But then I also didn’t like Barry’s inital comment to not ‘conflate misogyny and rape’ and I wasn’t sure why either of them rankled me.

    I like the improved version of that phrase: “don’t ‘equate’ misogyny and rape”. Rape is misogyny, but misogyny is not necessarily rape.

    And I appreciate Real World’s perspective on why women (such as the author of this essay)may react so strongly to these guys – because they are so threatened by them! I think men are reacting to this situation from a slightly different place: anger and protectiveness, as well as projecting personal guilt and shame for similar impulses or behavior (I question any guy who says he doesn’t have a little bit of Jarod or Jacob in him)

  2. Radio Follower September 23, 2015


    One of the guys says he had sex with a woman in a hospital while she was on meds and not able to offer resistance. Those are HIS words in the podcast. Is that not considered rape? The woman’s mom said she would be seeking the advice of an attorney.

    1. Barry Summers September 23, 2015

      See my comment below. I do hope that this is being investigated.

  3. Kim W September 22, 2015

    “Let’s not conflate the issue of rape with misogyny.”

    Good Lord, how can you NOT?

    1. Barry Summers September 23, 2015

      I admit that was poorly stated. How about this:

      “Let’s not equate misogyny with rape.”

      Did Andrea Dworkin move the discussion forward when she said, “Intercourse is the pure, sterile, formal expression of men’s contempt for women”? Many critics interpreted that and other statements by Dworkin as meaning “All heterosexual intercourse is rape.” She spent years fighting that characterization. I was in art school at the time, and even the strong feminist community there was bitterly split over it. Some thought that even the extreme mis-characterizations of Dworkin’s theories were right, but didn’t go far enough. If you had a penis, you were a Rapist. Period. Most thought that was insane, obviously. I honestly think it did more harm than good to the concept of rape-awareness and respect for women in general, at least in that period of the late 80s.

  4. Libertie Valance September 21, 2015

    Any reason why my comment in reply to Barry was removed?

  5. Jill September 21, 2015

    I agree with you, Barry. Deceit and manipulation are not the same thing as rape.

    It catches my attention when a man talks about “alpha” and “beta” males. So far, it seems to me that those men tend to have an actual hate and contempt for women and generally find women (and girls) disgusting. They entice other men who lack self-assurance into blaming and mocking women. I have to wonder about their relationships with their mothers, sisters, aunts, nieces, and female teachers and colleagues. This hatred and disgust appears to run so deep that they see women only in terms of sexual use/abuse.

  6. BC September 21, 2015

    When a poet/writer weighs in, the ball-busting is getting serious. Laura, do not know that women practice the same arts of deception to get laid? Rape, sadism – seriously? Stick with your poems.

  7. Libertie Valance September 21, 2015

    Barry, when the cards that you play to get someone into bed include alcohol or other drugs — as they apparently did for Jared — there is no doubt that you are a rapist. Further, even if drugs are not involved, when you manipulate or coerce someone into sex you are deliberately interfering with their ability to deny consent. The myth that every rape requires physical force is the key to dodging accountability for pick-up artist scumbags like Jared.

    1. Barry Summers September 23, 2015

      when the cards that you play to get someone into bed include alcohol or other drugs… there is no doubt that you are a rapist.

      So anyone who’s ever bought someone a drink in a bar, in the hopes of going home with them, is an attempted rapist?

      I may be at a disadvantage here, as I’m not on Facebook, and I know that a lot of info comes out there that doesn’t appear elsewhere. Did they give anyone drugs or alcohol without their knowledge? If so, that’s a crime. If not, I have a problem calling that “rape”.

      I want to see a real discussion take place about what these guys represent. But I just feel like blanket statements like that, which would seem to condemn a huge cross section of our society as “rapists”, aren’t helpful. You’ve just driven a whole lot of people out of the room.

      As for coercion, manipulation, yes these guys took advantage. But let me ask you this:

      One time, years ago, I had been dating a woman for several weeks, but we had not yet slept together. One night she told me that she wasn’t flatly saying no – she just wasn’t ready. I wanted to let her know I wasn’t in a hurry, so just to lighten the mood, I said something like “It’s OK, it’s probably for the best. I’m not very good in bed anyway.” We laughed and said goodnight… and on the next date she practically jumped me. Are you saying I raped that woman, even by accident, because I said something false in the hopes of getting her to relax with me? Again, I’m troubled by a too-broad definition of “rape”, which might have the effect of driving people away from the debate.

      I would define these guys as predators, even sociopaths. But rapists? I haven’t seen it. (The one exception being the case where he claimed to have had sex with someone medicated. I hope that we’ll hear that this is being investigated by the APD.)

      It’s unfortunate that we can’t agree as a society what constitutes “rape”. Because we really need to have this discussion.

      1. Libertie Valance September 25, 2015

        Yes, if you buy drinks for someone to try and cloud their judgement and errode their ability to deny consent, you are crossing the line into rape. As for your flirtatious joke, did it limit the ability of your date to provide consent? If not, I think you can sleep with a clear conscience. Otherwise, you are both a terrible person and an amazing flirt.

        If you’re confused about what constitutes rape, I recommend attending one of the upcoming events at which Our VOICE will be present:

        PS – I find it strange that you regard Jared as not a rapist but provide for “one exception”. Exactly how many rapes could a person commit and still be not be a rapist in your book?

      2. The Real World September 25, 2015

        Barry – Appreciate your forthrightness and effort in keeping this conversation alive as it is an important one. There is SO MUCH more dialogue that needs to occur, on so many levels, about these issues.

        I am female and have dealt with plenty of intense sexual harassment at work back in the 80’s, a few uncomfortable or mildly scary situations with dates/boyfriends and plenty of male interaction that has been totally fine, interesting and fun.

        I’m going to plop a reality out there that I feel sure most men have not thought about (b/c whenever I’ve mentioned it in the context of some conversation, they look stunned): it is that, as women, we live our lives looking over our shoulder. In my view, that shouldn’t come as a surprise to anyone but, I guess it does. The fact is we are physically weaker and we know it. And there isn’t a single day of our lives that we aren’t thinking about our safety in some way and probably multiple times a day. Do you know how exhausting that is? And after you’ve spent enough years on this planet, you begin to feel resentful about it.

        This fear (that seems to be our unwanted birthright) and associated anger, no doubt, has a lot to do with the dramatic reaction to the Waking Life situation. Those guys truly scare us. Their dedication to believing in and promoting — twisted, aggressive and manipulative behaviors towards women feels to us like one step removed from the point where they decide sex is theirs to rightfully take.

        Now, women certainly have some responsibility in all of this. For their own benefit, they ought to slow down, think about what they want from the guy they’re inclined to boink (and if it’s only sex and both are clear about that, then go for it). But, if she’s more interested in a relationship, she should take a little time to evaluate the character of the guy she’s about to get intimate with. He could be just a user and how will that play out?

        But, a lot of women are very insecure and, here’s a big truth, because plenty of parents do not help their daughters become confident, aware, secure young women. So, I contend, the women that hooked-up with these guys were either just looking for some fun themselves or they were insecure and didn’t take the time to evaluate who they were going to get naked with.

        Lastly, I do agree that it is not correct to simply equate misogyny with rape. But, it seems the pendulum often swings pretty far before it settles into a more realistic, balanced place.

        1. Barry Summers September 25, 2015

          Thanks for that perspective. I’ll just add that these PUA’s (pick up artists, as they call themselves), are almost as harsh on other men as they are on women. I’ve been scouring the various websites of the international “seduction community”, and many of them have utter contempt for other men who aren’t exerting as much effort as them in getting laid with as many different women as possible.

          And many of them are being very harsh on the Waking Life guys for apologizing. Suggesting they might sell them out, even suggesting violent retribution for being cowards…

  8. Barry Summers September 20, 2015

    You play whatever card you need to play to get a woman into bed with you, knowing that it is only a score. This is no different from rape.

    You had me & then lost me. These guys are despicable, and I hope they have to move away & changed their names. But I have a real problem with this statement. Deceit and manipulation are not the same thing as rape.

    Let’s not conflate the issue of rape with misogyny.


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